Friday, September 17, 2021

Farewell to Jane Powell

Yesterday's news of the passing of MGM musical star Jane Powell at the age of 92 hit especially hard.

MGM musicals played a significant role in my falling in love with classic movies, and Jane has always been a special favorite, including starring in my favorite film, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (1954).

I've seen the vast majority of Jane's movies, including all of her MGM musicals, most many times over. It says a lot about how I feel about Jane and her films that shortly after California locked down last March, one of the first "comfort movies" I pulled off the shelf to revisit was A DATE WITH JUDY (1948).

With Jane's passing, which follows the death of Marge Champion less than a year ago, there sadly aren't many MGM musical stars left. Still with us are Ann Blyth, Margaret O'Brien, and Leslie Caron. Janis Paige, who appeared in MGM's SILK STOCKINGS (1957), turned 99 on the day of Jane's passing, and Mitzi Gaynor, who had a brief visit at the studio for LES GIRLS (1957), turned 90 earlier this month.

I paid tribute to Jane on her birthday last year, sharing photos, stories of seeing her in person, and links to all of her films which have been reviewed here. (I need to review some films I've never written about here, including LUXURY LINER and HOLIDAY IN MEXICO.) Please visit it for more thoughts on Jane Powell.


Here's Jane with Debbie Reynolds celebrating their joint April 1st birthdays on the set of another all-time favorite Jane Powell musical, TWO WEEKS WITH LOVE (1950):

Today Turner Classic Movies posted its TCM Remembers video in Jane's honor. Jane was a special friend of the network, present at New York ceremonies the day the network went on the air, and I'm confident they'll be celebrating her career in due course. (Update: TCM will be celebrating Jane Powell during daytime viewing hours on Saturday, October 16th.)

Obituaries may be read at The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline, and the Associated Press, via the Los Angeles Times.

It's very difficult to see a beloved favorite pass from the scene, yet I'm also so very grateful for the many hours of joy Jane Powell has given to my life -- a legacy which will continue forever.

Related: Previous obituary tributes to SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS cast members: Betty Carr (November 14, 2008), Matt Mattox (February 22, 2013), Virginia Gibson (May 28, 2013), Marc Platt (April 1, 2014), Norma Doggett (May 15, 2020), Tommy Rall (October 8, 2020), and Jacques D'Amboise (May 3, 2021).


Blogger Irene said...

As soon as the news hit of Jane's passing, you were the first person I thought of. I'm going to have to rewatch some of her movies. What a beauty and from all accounts, I very kind person.

8:02 AM  
Blogger DKoren said...

Oh man, I'm so sad to hear this news. Same thing for me - she was a part of my formative movie childhood with Seven Brides. When I was young, my dad had a Jane Powell record that he would put on in the mornings on the weekend. I would wake up to Jane Powell's voice, and it was wonderful. She was my dad's favorite musical star. RIP, and I am grateful for all the movies and performances we have to revisit.

8:10 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Irene and Deb, thank you both so much for sharing your thoughts on the wonderful Jane Powell. It's so very sad, yet I'm grateful she had a very long and productive life.

Deb, that's a wonderful memory about your dad. My dad used to sometimes play music in the morning as well, though I don't specifically remember Jane Powell!

Best wishes,

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Laura,

What a mighty mite she was! Depending on what source you credit, she was only 5'1" at most. But in Seven Brides she had no problem whipping six wild, cloddish brothers into shape through sheer force of personality. (I'm giving Adam credit for being mostly civilized already). She was a fine actor.

One of my favorite stories about Seven Brides is when Jane Powell saw rehearsals for the barn dance sequence and told Michael Kidd, "I want to dance too!" Kidd, casual genius that he was, worked up something basically on the spot. Now as the dance unfolds, one and all could see the respect and affection the brothers had for her, harking back to how she singlehandedly pushed them out of the bunkhouse and taught them how to behave rightly* in the wider world. The world of grownups. As a result, one of the best dance sequences ever put on film became even better.

* So ok, later all of them were guilty of conspiracy and kidnapping, but hey, personal growth takes time.

Dave G ('Impact’ comments)

p.s. And if that story is actually not true, it should have been.

10:01 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Dave!

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on Jane Powell and my favorite film, SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS. And I LOL on "personal growth." I've been so glad to hear from my fellow Jane Powell fans. Always good to hear from you!

Best wishes,

5:58 PM  

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